at the Mill Valley Film Festival, 2005
|Born||Donald McNicol Sutherland
17 July 1935
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
|Spouse(s)||Lois Hardwick (1959–66)
Shirley Douglas (1966–70)
Donald McNicol Sutherland, OC (born 17 July 1935) is a Canadian character actor with a film career spanning over 50 years. Some of Sutherland's more notable movie roles included offbeat warriors in such war movies as The Dirty Dozen, in 1967, and MASH and Kelly's Heroes in 1970, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978. He recently starred in the American television series Dirty Sexy Money.
Sutherland was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, the son of Dorothy Isobel (née McNichol) and Frederick McLea Sutherland, who worked in sales and ran the local gas, electricity, and bus company. He got his first part time job at age 14 as a news correspondent for local radio station CKBW in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. He then studied at Victoria College, University of Toronto, where he met his first wife Lois Hardwick (not the child star of the same name), and graduated with a double major in engineering and drama. He had at one point been a member of the "UC Follies" comedy troupe in Toronto. He changed his mind about becoming an engineer, and subsequently left Canada for England to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
In the early to mid-1960s, Sutherland began to get small parts in British films and TV, landing notable roles in horror films with Christopher Lee, such as Castle of the Living Dead (1964) and Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965) and twice appearing in the The Saint, firstly in the 1965 episode "The Happy Suicide" and then, more auspiciously, in a story called "Escape Route" at the end of 1966. The episode was directed by the show's star, Roger Moore, who later recalled that Sutherland "asked me if he could show it to some producers as he was up for an important part... they came to view a rough cut at the studio and he got The Dirty Dozen. Thus, Sutherland was on course for the first of the three war films which would be his initial great successes: The Dirty Dozen in 1967, with Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson; in 1970, as the lead "Hawkeye" Pierce in Robert Altman's M*A*S*H; and, again in 1970, as tank commander Sgt. Oddball in Kelly's Heroes, with Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas. During his time in England Sutherland also appeared in The Avengers in 1967, in an episode titled "The Superlative Seven."
During the filming of the Academy award-winning detective thriller Klute, Sutherland had an intimate relationship with co-star Jane Fonda. Sutherland and Fonda went on to co-produce and star together in the anti-Vietnam war film F.T.A. (1972), consisting of a series of sketches performed outside army bases in the Pacific Rim and interviews with American troops who were then on active service. Sutherland found himself in demand as a leading man throughout the 1970s in films such as the Venice-based psychological horror film Don't Look Now (1973), the war film The Eagle Has Landed (1976),Federico Fellini's Casanova(1976) and the thriller Eye of the Needle (which was filmed on location on the Isle of Mull, West Scotland) and as the ever-optimistic health inspector in the sci-fi/horror film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) alongside Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum. He helped launch the internationally popular Canadian television series Witness to Yesterday, with a performance as the Montreal doctor Norman Bethune, a physician and humanitarian, largely talking of Bethune's experiences in revolutionary China. Sutherland refused a script for this role, saying he knew Bethune's life so well they could ask him anything—and the interviewer ended up with enough material for two programs instead of the planned one.
Sutherland also had a small role as pot-smoking Professor Dave Jennings in National Lampoon's Animal House in 1978, making himself known to younger fans as a result of the movie's popularity. When cast, he was offered either US$40,000 up front or a percentage of the movie. Thinking the movie would certainly not be a big success, he chose the 40K upfront payment.
He won acclaim for his performance in the Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci's 1976 epic film 1900 and as the conflicted father in the Academy award-winning family drama Ordinary People (1980) alongside Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton. In 1981 he narrated A War Story, an Anne Wheeler film. He played the part of physician-hero Norman Bethune in two separate biographical films in 1977 and 1990. A prolific actor, some of Sutherland's better-known roles in the 1980s and 1990s were in the South African apartheid drama A Dry White Season (1989), alongside Marlon Brando and Susan Sarandon; the firefighter thriller Backdraft (1991), alongside Kurt Russell and Robert De Niro; and as the snobbish NYC art dealer in Six Degrees of Separation (1993), with Stockard Channing and Will Smith. In the 1991 Oliver Stone film JFK, Sutherland played a mysterious Washington intelligence officer, reputed to have been L. Fletcher Prouty, who spoke of links to the military-industrial complex in the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
He played psychiatrist and visionary Wilhelm Reich in the video for Kate Bush's 1985 single, "Cloudbusting." In 1992 he played the part of Merrick in the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with Kristy Swanson. In 1995, Sutherland was cast as the antagonistic Maj. Gen. Donald McClintock in Wolfgang Petersen's thriller Outbreak, also featuring Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, and Rene Russo. Sutherland was later cast in 1997 (for only the second time) with his son Kiefer in Joel Schumacher's award-winning crime thriller A Time to Kill, based on the bestselling book of the same name, written by John Grisham.
In more recent years, Sutherland was noted for his role as Reverend Monroe in the Civil War drama Cold Mountain (2003), in the remake of The Italian Job (2003), in the TV series Commander in Chief (2005–2006); and in Pride and Prejudice (2005), starring alongside Keira Knightley. He earned an Emmy nomination in 2006 for his performance in the miniseries Human Trafficking.
Sutherland starred as Tripp Darling in the prime time serial Dirty Sexy Money for ABC. Sutherland's distinctive voice has also been used in many radio and television commercials, including those for Volvo automobiles. He is the spokesman for Simply Orange orange juice and recently he played multi-millionaire Nigel Honeycut in the Warner Bros. film Fool's Gold. He provided voice-overs and narration during the intro of 1st semifinal of Eurovision Song Contest 2009, and the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and was also one of the Olympic flag bearers. During the games, Sutherland attended some of the events.
Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film]], Path to War
Sutherland was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on 18 December 1978 and was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2000. He maintains a home in Georgeville, in Quebec's Eastern Townships. Sutherland was a major fan of the Montreal Expos.
Son Kiefer Sutherland, a successful actor best-known for his role as Jack Bauer on the TV action/thriller series 24, and his twin sister, Rachel, were born to Donald Sutherland and his second wife, Shirley Douglas, daughter of Tommy Douglas.
Donald Sutherland met his current wife, French-Canadian actress Francine Racette, on the set of the Canadian pioneer drama Alien Thunder. They have three sons, including actor Rossif Sutherland, Angus Sutherland, and Roeg Sutherland. Sutherland became a blogger for the Huffington Post during the 2008 Elections.